Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hard Candy

Hard Candy (Director: David Slade)

Not counting the movies I've seen at my new theatre, my New York movies have had a central theme--men who prey on girls. Early last year, it was The Woodsman, the Kevin Bacon drama where he tries to live life after prison without victimizing young girls. Hard Candy is The Woodsman's worst nightmare--which should provide conflicting feelings on the matter.

Another one of those films that comes along and has a twist at its center. Hard Candy concerns an older man, Jeff (Patrick Wilson), who meets a 14-year-old girl, Hayley (Ellen Page, who is in this week's X-Men 3) on an internet chat room. They meet, and soon they are at Jeff's apartment for drinks and fun and frolic. Oh, but that's just the setup.

While watching this dialogue-driven movie, I thought it had the sound of a David Mamet screenplay, and The Village Voice sums up this movie's makeup perfectly-- Mamet's Oleanna meets 70's cult horror flick I Spit on Your Grave. This movie is darkly comic at times, actually very funny, driven by Page's performance as the psycho teen hell-bent on revenge towards an internet predator. Page as Hayley plays it cool as she does wicked things to Jeff, able to sneak in some pretty funny lines that mock the usual conventions of psycho thrillers.

So where the conflicting feelings come in is, are Hayley's actions justified or not? It's one of those wrongs-make-a-right kind of arguments. Your feelings on the matter will likely decide whether you like this movie or not. If you think Hayley is an evil bitch, no matter what crimes Jeff may have done, then her dialogue will roll off of you as cruel. If not, you'll have a hard time stifling some laughs.

Overall, not the best movie in the world. It's entertaining, but in that late-night cable way.


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